12:45am (forgot what date 9/17?) phone rings....rings....rings.
On the other end is the senior midwife calling to tell me that one of our clients is in labor and could I please go to her house and check her. Could I check her??? Silly question! Of course I can go check her.
0.4 nanoseconds later I am dressed and out the door. I have an address, a GPS, few medical supplies and a loving heart. What else do I need? I am making my way to a location I have never been to before to see a client that I have never seen before. All I know is that her Apt. # is 911 and I'm really hoping that doesn't mean bad news for her birth.
I take off for the big city and the GPS tells me that I will be there in an hour and a half, 2:30am is my ETA. There is not much to see on country roads late at night with little than moonlight to show the way. In fact the stars are about the only thing I can see, they are so pretty and I realize how much of them you can see when you are away from brightly lit towns.
As I make my journey in the midwife mobile I start going over emergency protocols as a way to practice and stay current on them. This is the first birth that I am going to as first responder, so far the senior midwife has always been there first. I take this as a good sign that she thinks I can handle the responsibility. I will not let her down.
So at exactly 2:30am I pull into the large parking lot for the apartment complex. I gather my belongings and head towards the front door. As I enter I notice that you have to be buzzed into the main part of the building. I get out the client's info and call them so that they may let me in to their apratment...their lives...their birth experience...their sacred environment.
The father of the baby answers the phone and says he'll be right down. As I wait for him to come downstairs I wonder what he looks like, what does the mother look like and then finally what will their baby look like? As he approaches the vestibule that I have been waiting in I realize he looks nothing like I thought he would and yet exactly how I thought he would.
We get into the elevator and start our ascent; meanwhile I'm hoping baby is making her descent. I know the apartment number is usually indicative of the floor number but he pushes the 12th floor and I don't argue. As we arrive on the 12th floor we get off the elevator and walk down to the end of the hallway and he reaches out for the handle of apartment # 1211. I assume that my paperwork has a typo. He then notices the number and sheepishly turns to me and states that we are on the wrong floor.
I start to giggle and we talk about how funny that would be for the people who do live there. Can you imagine two random people standing at your front door at 2:45am one in pajamas and barefoot and the other in scrubs with various medical equipment? That would be quite a scene!
Finally we end up on the 9th floor and at apt# 911, we walk in and although I've never been to their house or met them before there is something very familiar with this scenario. It is quite dark in their house, there is a pregnant woman sitting on the couch breathing deeply with every contraction. The vibe is peaceful and inviting. I can smell the residual of incense burning and it is a nice earthy smell.
I do a quick exam and find her to be about 3 cms dilated and having regular contractions. Baby's heartbeat sounds great and mom is stable. I tell them that I will be here with them until the birth and for them to do whatever they feel that they need to do.
The time passes slowly and mom keeps on contracting and breathing with each passing hour. They switch between resting in bed and getting up and walking around. I suggest at one point that they take a shower and try to relax. I had a feeling this was going to be a very long day.
Around 7am the senior midwife joined us for this birth day party and so now there are four of us total sitting around talking and concentrating and praying and hoping that this sweet little baby would just come on out. Mom is definitely hoping to see that light at the end of the tunnel. I have explained to her that first babies are typically slow and take a long time. She was doing everything perfectly and I don't think that there was anything that she could have done differently.
Now it is about 12:30 pm and we were starting to get rather hungry. The senior midwife decided to go out and get lunch for the two of us. I was in desperate need of energy and food. I had only been asleep for an hour and a half before I got the call to come to this birth. We ate some yummy food and almost immediately I felt rejuvenated.
During this long process we encourage mom to continue eating and drinking. I don't understand how the body is expected to run a marathon with no energy to assist it. That is one thing that has always perplexed me about hospital births. She has had some food and lots of water and juices; however this is also a sign to me that she is not in heavy labor. Most women in active labor do not have an appetite and really don't want to eat or drink. We often have to really encourage them to eat and drink.
Hours and hours have gone by and now it is almost 4pm. I am exhausted and running on 1.5 hrs of sleep. That sleep that is now failing me and calling me to come back to it at the same time. It is really funny the things that your brain does when it is sleep deprived. It truly is an altered state. I am trying not to complain about being tired because I can only imagine how the mom is feeling!
The senior midwife tells me to go lay down for a little while and she says she'll sit with the client. Of course as soon as I lay down I hear a commotion and dad comes running in the room to get a towel. I ask what is going on and he says her water broke. I was so excited that I jumped up! I know that this can often be a sign that the baby is going to be born soon. The contractions start coming faster and stronger and all signs are pointing to yes at this point.
Around 6pm she starts to push and she pushes and pushes and pushes. We tried lots of different positions and lots of remedies...nothing seems to be working. This baby does not want to come out. After 2 hours of that the decision is made to go to the hospital for some help.
We are so blessed to have a wonderful back up doctor and such a loving hospital at our disposal. A phone call is placed to let them know that we are on our way and off we go. The mom and dad are disappointed but at that point they are so tired and they just want their baby to be out and healthy.
We are admitted to the hospital around 8:45pm and by 10:30 the baby is born. She's a big baby! Almost 10lbs and she got stuck coming out, the doctors had to work pretty hard to get her out. It was tense there for a few mins and I found myself holding my breath and saying a quick prayer.
Mom and baby were in great hands and I trusted the staff throughout the whole process. The final joy for me was being able to hold that beautiful stubborn little baby girl. I stayed in the hospital with the new family for about an hour or so and left shortly after 12 midnight. I got back home just after 1:30am and realized I had been gone for 25hrs.
Needless to say I was exhausted and hungry. I ate a quick sandwich and fell into bed. I was alseep before my eyes even closed. My husband found me in bed with some of my clothes on and one shoe still on that afternoon. I was able to sleep for about a good 13 hrs.
Birth is such a time warp. In this story I left my house at 1am on a Thursday, got home at 1:30am Friday and woke up around 2pm Friday afternoon. There is no job like this in the world!